Why Systems Work So Well

In the book “Thinking in Systems”, Donella Meadows dedicates an entire chapter to explaining why functioning systems seem to work so well. In it, she recognizes three characteristics: resilience, self-organization, and hierarchy. Resilience We can use the standard definition from the Oxford English dictionary to describe resilience: re·sil·ience /rəˈzilyəns/ noun the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. “the often remarkable resilience of so many British institutions” the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity. [Read More]

Above-the-line and below-the-line

Making sense of the complex world of software

Engineering, for much of the twentieth century, was mainly about artifacts and inventions. Now, it’s increasingly about complex systems. As the airplane taxis to the gate, you access the Internet and check email with your PDA, linking the communication and transportation systems. At home, you recharge your plug-in hybrid vehicle, linking transportation to the electricity grid. At work, you develop code, commit it to a repository, run test cases, deploy to production, and monitor the result. [Read More]